Program seeks to better integrate disabled people

By David F. Rooney

Community Connections has launched a program that seeks to better integrate handicapped people in the workplace and the larger society around them.

While it is saddled with an unwieldy title, the Demonstration Project to Improve Social Inclusion Outcomes of People with Disabilities strives to “draw out people who are isolated,” says the program’s Laura Gallagher.

“We are looking for people between the ages of 18 and 65 who are self-identified as disabled,” she said in an interview last week.

The program is supported by five agencies. The BC Coalition of People With Disabilities, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Community Legal Assistance Society, Inclusion BC and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC selected Community Connections to deliver the project in Revelstoke.

Gallagher said it has five basic goals:

  1. Increase people’s participation in organized community activities;
  2. Increase their participation in employment opportunities and increase their earnings;
  3. Increase levels of community involvement when employment is not possible;
  4. Help them access new skills and new opportunities; and
  5. Strengthen individuals’ personal supports and social networks.

“We’re talking about everything,” she said. “Social and economic outcomes, better participation rates in community activities and better employment and volunteer activities.”

Gallagher, who has BAs from Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., in Psychology and Cultural Studies as well as Indigenous Studies and Economic Development, said the program is actively seeking participants.

“A lot of people who would qualify for this are socially isolated and may have anxiety issues,” she said. “I’m hoping that they or their friends and family members will read about this project and recognize its value.”

People who participate will learn how to be more independent, assertive and self-confident — qualities that can only improve their quality of life, Gallagher said.

If you or someone you know could benefit from this project please contact Laura Gallagher at 250-837-8836 or send her an e-mail at